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Garden Progress & This Week's Goals

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Larkspur The Prudent Homemaker

Larkspur. These reseed themselves in the garden every year.


I tried last week for a shortened to-do list for the week, and still, it didn't happen.

It reminded me of this quote from C.S. Lewis.

C S Lewis Quote The Prudent Homemaker

Interestingly enough, my children picked this video to watch on Sunday, which was a great thing for me to see in relation to the coming week. The ending made me cry (for a good reason). It's worth 9 minutes of your time: You Never Know How Much Good You Do

What did I accomplish last week?

I did get the children's shower curtains washed, and my bathtub emptied of plants, pots, and dirt. I still need to replant the pots that I overwintered for way too long in the house; I think I'll remove the ginger bulbs and try them in the garden, and replant the pots with begonias (I found some bulbs online) for the shade by the front door. I still need to plant the seedlings that are growing in one pot into the garden.

I went to Lowe's to buy some pots to plant my hibiscus plants. This wasn't even on my to-do list, but it should have been.  I didn't end up liking any of their options, but when I first walked into the department, I saw two large white hydrangea plants.

I've been wanting to grow hydrangeas for a long time.

Growing up in the desert, they're not something I've ever seen except in photos. I had been doing some reading on hydrangeas just a few days before I saw them, and I went home with one of them that night. The clerk told me they had got 6 plants in the day before, and those 2 were already all that was left. 

White Hydrangeas 1 The Prudent Homemaker


The next morning I was certain I wanted the other one, and I went back to get it. It was still there. I brought it back and planted it.

 Hydrangea The Prudent Homemaker

Both of these are up against the house, where they are in shade most of the day.

Hydrangea buds The Prudent Homemaker

Later I went to Home Depot to look at their pots (I checked online first and found one I liked). I took a different child with me to the store this time (I try to take one child at a time to the store for some individual time with mom). We bought the pots, and on the way home, as we approached the cemetery, my daughter asked when we could go to grandma's grave again.

"Right now," I said, and pulled into the cemetery.

That wasn't on my to-do list--but I'm sure glad we did it.

When we came home, Wren helped me plant the hibiscus.

I didn't plant the apricot tree, but I did take out the old pomegranate (a few years ago it stopped producing, overshadowed by other trees that had grown up near it. I removed it and moved it into a pot, but it still didn't produce. I think it needs a sunny spot in the ground. Two weeks ago, I bought a new, smaller pomegranate tree to replace it). I gave the old pomegranate to my neighbor, who already had a hole partly dug, and whose sons were visiting and able to finish digging the hole for her (something else had died in the spot, so she also had drip irrigation to the spot already). Wren, Ivory, and I planted the new pomegranate in the pot.

I spent time this week listening to a child who really needed to talk.

Later, my husband and I spent time discussing the needs of that child and what we can do to help her with those things.

 Passionfruit Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

Maypop Passionfruit Flowers


I did manage to pull out most of the pea plants, all of the broccoli plants, and a good number of dill plants. I planted Armenian cucumber seeds, dahlia seeds, and porutlaca seeds. I planted a few gladiolus bulbs. I took out and replanted several iris bulbs that were where the hydrangea went it. That required me to dig up several leeks, which will need to be planted elsewhere this week.

I moved the crib to the garage, though my husband will still have to find a place for it there.

I photographed and listed one item for sale on the Facebok gargae sale page.

I collected green onion seeds from the garden.

I went to Sam's Club and did my shopping there.

I didn't plant the Chinese lantern seeds. It says on the packet that they need at least 2 weeks of cool temepratures, and to refrigerate them, so I put them in the fridge.

I found a number of grape leaf skeleteonizer eggs. This is months earlier than they appeared last year. I will have to be diligent about checking the leaves of all of my vines and taking off infected leaves.

I did decide to have two girls switch rooms, which should make for quieter afternoons.

This week's goals, then, include some new items, and most of the same items from last week.  The Katy apricots and Desert Gold peaches look to be ripe some time this week, so they'll need to be picked, eaten, and processed.



1. Replant leeks in a new spot or two in the garden

2. Remove the rest of pea vines

3. Harvest Katy apricots and Desert Gold peaches

4. Plant zucchini, butternut squash, sunflower and red noodle bean seeds

5. Plant artichoke seedlings in the garden

6. Spray euonymus hedges for powdery mildew (I use an organic cottonseed oil for this)

7. Cut and dry chamomile buds

8. Plant raspberry bushes

9. Fix damaged drip lines and run a few new drip lines

10. Plant apricot tree

11. Pot begonias

12. Plant the other summer bulbs I ordered that came: gladiolus, dahlia (I'm trying seeds and bulbs), and lilies.

13. Reseed bare spots in grass

14. Remove dead leaves from center circle in back and plant zinna seeds in their place

15. Plant 2 tomato plants that have been waiting for the broccoli to come out

16. Put up tomato cages and stakes, and wire cages to stakes

17. Check grape vines for grape leaf skeletonizers and remove infected leaves

Organization and Cleaning:

1. Photograph and list several items for sale on Facebook garage sale pages

2. Take non-sold items to thrift store for donation at the end of the week

3. Hang pictures (I'm moving pictures around in a few places in the house)

4. Clean out behind fridge (we're blowing out the coils with the air compressor)

5. Clean dust in kitchen and main living areas after cleaning behind fridge :)

6. Help girls switch rooms


1. Take photos for three blog posts this week


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Garden Progress and This Week's Goals

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Nasturiums and Lavender in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker


During a break from the wind, my dad helped me finish taking out the Liberty apple tree. He also cut down the two grapefruit trees you see in the photo above (on the left; one is just a dead trunk). I still have the roots to remove on those two, but they are down now. They have never done well and in 8 years I have only had a few grapefruit. The dead one succombed to frost. Most years our winter temperatures only dip down to 28ºF for a short while, but when it gets colder than that (and even just at freezing) the citrus trees can be damaged and killed, even though I cover them.

Today is very windy again. We've had so many windy days that it's been difficult to work in the garden all month. The wind brought lower temperatures, though, which has been a good thing for the garden. When the wind is gone in a few days, the weatherman says it will be 94ºF. I have a lot of work in the garden that has been put off because of the high winds.

When the wind dies down, I'll be able to finish taking out the rest of the cool season plants and sow the warm season seeds. I ran out of trash can space last week, but this week I plan to have the cans full on both days the trash goes out (they pick up twice a week here) with tree roots, the apple tree trunk, branches, and bolted herbs and vegetables. I am leaving some bolted produce in the garden to collect seeds for next year, but past what I will need I will remove.

I still have trees to remove. I'm hoping my dad will be available again with his saws all to help me make quick work of cutting them down. I'm taking these trees out because they are not producing.

Last week I ended up ordering more seeds for the white garden, including some dahlia seeds. I also ordered a few summer bulbs, including a few dahlia bulbs. The seeds showed up in two days (yet another reason I love Outside Pride, in addition to their large variety and fantastic prices). I planted the seeds last week in the white garden, but only a few in the backyard.

Artichokes in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker




1. Harvest artichokes

2. Remove pea vines (covering my face and mouth this time with protection)

3. Cut and remove bolted chard, leaving only some for collecting seed (we'll be eating lots of chard this week!)

4. Plant Armenian cucumber, zucchini, butternut squash, sunflower and red noodle bean seeds

5. Remove grapefruit tree stumps

6. Spray euonymus hedges for powdery mildew (I use an organic cottonseed oil for this)

7. Cut and dry chamomile buds

8. Plant raspberry bushes

9. Plant apricot tree

10. Plant Chinese lantern seeds. I've never grown these but I think they are so much fun! I plan on planting them with the nasturiums. When the summer heat comes, the nasturiums die here (in milder climates I understand they are a summer flower). I'm hoping these make it through the heat and produce enough to enjoy in the garden and in arrangements in the house.

11. Move euonymus bushes. I grew some new bushes by pinning branches. These are large enough to be dug, cut away from the original plant, and planted elsewhere.

12. Reseed bare spots in grass

13. Collect green onion seeds


Organization and Cleaning:


1. Photograph and list several items for sale on Facebook garage sale pages

2. Take non-sold items to thrift store for donation at the end of the week

3.  Clean and organize spice cabinet

4. Hang pictures (I'm moving pictures around in a few places in the house)

5. Move crib to garage

6. Clean out behind fridge (we're blowing out the coils with the air compressor)

7. Clean dust in kitchen and main living areas after cleaning behind fridge :)

8. Organize papers in basket

9. Take plants out of bathtub :) and move them back outdoors; clean bathtub

10. Wash shower curtains from children's bathrooms




1. Take photos for three blog posts this week


Tagged in: Goals The Garden
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How to Thin Your Fruit Trees

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 Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

The two most common compliants I hear people give about their home-grown fruit is that the tree produces fruit that is too small, and that the tree only fruits every other year.

Both of these problems are easily solved by thinning.

A tree naturally thins itself, to some degree. Wind helps with this, knocking down some of the young fruit.

Thinning your fruit is a very important step in the long-term health of your tree. A tree that isn't thinned can become exhausted, and be unable to bear fruit the next year.

When fruits are dime sized, go out the tree with a ladder and a basket, and thin your trees. It will hurt your feelings to do this, You will feel like you are making less fruit for yourself, but that is not the case at all. You are allowing your tree to make bigger fruit, and you will give it the strength to fruit every year.

You'll prevent your tree from losing branches due to being too heavily laden with fruit. Broken branches result in disease and bugs entering your trees, as well as a loss of fruit from the tree in years to come. Small, young branches with too much fruit at the tips cannot support the weight of fully-ripened fruit. Thin young branches and branch tips more heavily to prevent branch breakage.


 Thinned and Unthinned Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

Thinning fruit also greatly affects the size of this year's fruit crop.

You'll want the fruit to be able to get sunlight and air around each piece, so that it can ripen fully.

Stone fruits, including apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines should be thinned. Apples and pears also need to be thinned. Citrus trees do not need to be thinned, as they naturally thin themselves, dropping enough "extra" fruit on their own. Figs naturally grow spaced apart from one another and do not need to be thinned.


Plum Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

Apricots and Plums:

You'll want your fruit to be 3" (6-7 cm) apart. Pick off any fruit that is growing closer than this.

Thinning Plums The Prudent Homemaker


Peach blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

Peaches and Nectarines:

You'll want your fruit to be 5" to 6" apart. Pick off any fruit that is growing closer together than this.

 Dorsett Golden Apple Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker


Apples flower in a group, with the center flower usually opening first. This usually results in the center fruit being already larger than the others, as it had a slight head start on the other fruits in the cluster.  When the apples are 1 to 1 1/2" long, carefully pull off all of the fruits in each cluster except for the largest one.

 Thinning Apples The Prudent Homemaker



 Thinning Pears The Prudent Homemaker

Like apples, pears should be thinned to one or two fruits per cluster.

When choosing which fruits to thin, make sure to thin any diseased fruit. Leave the largest and best looking fruits on the tree.

Discard the fruit that you have picked. Leaving it on the ground (or any other fruit on the ground, later in the season) gives pests a good feeding ground and can introduce bugs to your trees. For this reason, I like to pick with a basket to collect the thinned fruit.


Don't be afraid to thin your fruit! You'll have much larger, healthier fruit and trees for years to come.


Tagged in: The Garden
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Green in the White Garden

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 Green in White Garden1 The Prudent Homemaker

The white garden is very green right now. In a few days it will be full of flowers;  even as I write this, several tulips have opened, and there are roses that will open within the week.

Here are some scenes from the garden from a couple of days ago:

Green in the White Garden 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The Katy apricot tree has doubled in size since last year.

Katy Apricot The Prudent Homemaker

Green in the White Garden 3 The Prudent Homemaker

Thyme cascades from the urn. Underneath it, parsley grows. To the right of that is dusty miller under the peach tree, and the large plant is an artichoke, planted from seed last year (to harvest this year).  A carpet rose is in a pot near the wall, and jasmine grows from a pot on the trellis (which is 6 inch concrete mesh, hung on the diagonal). This corner could have had nothing at all, between the concrete footings for the wall and the house, and the two irrigation boxes. I used pots on top of these things to make the most of the space; the urn sits on one of the irrigation boxes.

Cyclamen The Prudent Homemaker

 I experimented with cyclamen in the corner, which is usually in the shade. It flowers in the winter, and I have heard it can grow all year outdoors here if kept in the shade. I have snapdragons behind it, and a mulberry seedling as well, grown from seeds from my neighbor's tree.

White Alpine Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker

I'm growing white alpine strawberries in several places in the garden. I grew these from seed. The strawberries are tiny, and they are white when ripe. They're super sweet (like eating strawberry fruit leather!) and in more mild climates than mine, they will bloom all summer. Here they bloom in spring,February through May, and again in fall, October through December.

Meyer Lemon and Bay Trees The Prudent Homemaker

The meyer lemon trees will eventually grow to be a hedge that covers the wall between my front yard and my neighbor's backyard.

Meyer Lemon Buds The Prudent Homemaker

They are just starting to open. When they all do, the perfume is wonderful.

Under the tree are the alpine strawberries, garlic chives, parsley, and green onions. There are three lemon trees in this planter (which was a slope covered with rocks before we chaged the landcape). Between the other trees are tarragon, oregano, and parlsey plants, and behind them, next to the wall, are green onions grown from seed.

Bay Leaf Standard The Prudent Homemaker


In the pot is a bay tree, that I am growing as a topiary.


 Calla Lily The Prudent Homemaker

Below the planter I've planted calla lilies. These get afternoon shade from the walls near them, and in the summer, they'll have shade from the apricot tree and dusty miller below it.

I do have a few things blooming right now. I have stock, that I've grown from seed. This can bloom all winter into May here, depending on when the plants went in the ground. This one was grown from seed last fall:

White Stock The Prudent Homemaker


DianthusThe Prudent Homemaker

The dinathus in the urn will bloom in spring, and then burn and die in the summer heat. Though it's a perennial in cooler climates, it has always acted as a cool-season annual for me in our climate. I got this one in a tiny pot at the nursery last fall. 

Snapdragon The Prudent Homemaker

The snapdragons are blooming in the bottom sectin of the garden, below the wall. They're farily covered by the paperwhite leaves (the paperwhites bloomed in November). I think after the paperwhite die back all the way (important to give the bulbs strength to bloom again the next year) that I will have to dig them up and plant them in the back of the bed.

White Garden 4 The Prudent Homemaker

 Front Walk The Prudent Homemaker

Above the front entry I have white Lady Bank's roses. These tiny roses bloom once a year in spring. I planted them two years ago (they were the first things to go in, while we did the rest ofh te work in the front yard) and they were 12 inches tall when then went it. This year they have blooms for the first time. Up the edges of hte walkway I have more alpine strawberries, and parlsey on the opposite side. In the center I have daffodils, spinach, lettuce, and Star of Bethelem (which isn't blooming this year, unfortunately). The euyonomous bushes will be pruned into spheres once they are large enough.

Passionfruit leaves The Prudent Homemaker

On the wall opposite the hose, the passionfruit vine is already leafing out. I'm hoping well get fruit this year, as it hasn't fruited for me yet.

 Passionfruit vine The Prudent Homemaker

Primroses grow along the path on both sides of the walkway here. These started blooming in January. After the blooms die, they will be green the rest of the year. This spot is in the shade all year.

White Garden 5 The Prudent Homemaker

Within the next two weeks, the garden will be full of blooms.

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Garden Tour Announcement

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February Rain in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Would you like to see my garden?

I will be having a tour on Saturday, March 14th, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The weather should be beautiful.

Tulips in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

The tour is a 2-hour class, where I'll teach about gardening in the desert, including soil, drip irrigation, choosing fruit trees, pruning, thinning, what grows well for me, and about the different fruit trees, vegetables, vines, and flowers in my garden.

The cost is $10. The class is open to adults only. Space is limited to 35 people.

To reserve your spot, please send me an email with your name and the number of people who will be attending.

My email is brandy (at) theprudenthomemaker (dot) com

Lettuce in the Raised Bed The Prudent Homemaker

If you live in Las Vegas, Nevada, or want to make the drive that weekend (I've had attendees from Utah, Arizona, California and Idaho before), I'd love to meet you!

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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White Garden in January The Prudent Homemaker

While most of the United States experienced a really cold week, for us, the weather turned warmer on Wednesday. I turned off the heater, and even opened the windows for a few hours to let in some fresh air.

Warmer weather made it perfect for planting. Even though we can still get a frost for 5 to 6 more weeks (and we will probably get just 1), the warm weather meant it was ideal to plant seeds. I checked soil temperatures with a thermometer and planted early spring seeds from seedds I had left from last year: carrots, radishes, snow peas, leeks, onions, beets, lettuce, spinach, violas, and larkspur. The warmer weather will help the seeds germinate a bit faster, and even when it turns cooler again, the seedlings will continue to grow. This upcoming week will be 5-10ºF cooler than last week, but still the right temperature for these seedlings to grow.

I planted the onions seeds in between rows of lettuce, so that I can get more from the space that I have. I planted the snow peas under the grapes, so that they can grow on the same trellises. They will be ripe and ready just as the grape leaves start to come out, so I hope to be able to help this space also do double duty. I found a place to put in more leeks; I planted seeds between the rose bushes and the hedge in the front yard.

Lettuce and Broccoli Seedlings The Prudent Homemaker

I transplanted Swiss chard (silverbeet) and green onions that had self-seeded into some spots where they were too crowded into some places where they will have more room to grow properly. I also transplanted some parsley from a corner in the front yard into the planters by the walkway, and transplanted some broccoli seedlings that I had missed (they were growing under two jars) earlier; if all of the broccoli seedlings that I moved make it, I will have 12 plants (with lettuce growing underneath them). I hope that we will get heads from these; when I have tried growing broccoli in the past, they bolted in the warm spring weather without forming heads. These seedlings were planted in the fall, to ensure them a long cool growing season.

I divided a rosemary plant to start a new topiary.

I planted more garlic in the garden.

Chard and Green Onions The Prudent Homemaker

I cut Swiss chard, green onions, thyme, and garlic scapes from the garden.

I cooked a large pot of white beans (5 cups dried), and used it to make a bean soup with Swiss chard, green onions, garlic scapes, and thyme from the garden. I added in some chicken bullion and 12 ounce of sausage that I had in the freezer, and the family loved it. We ate three meals from this, with everyone having seconds and thirds each time.

I cooked a turkey on Saturday. 

Paperwhites in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I pruned the lemon trees in the front yard and put the branches in a vase on my entry table.

I pruned the roses in the front yard and brought some roses and buds in to enjoy.


We watched sky writers from our own backyard! They were outside for over an hour. It was 6 planes that made the words.

My husband and I watched Downton Abbey on Pbs.org for free. We also watched 3 episodes of a show on Hulu for free. 

The whole family watched several episodes of War Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Tudor Monastery Farm for free on You Tube. We learned several interesting things from these shows.

 Sundial The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do last week to save money and enjoy life?


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